Think for a moment about all the gifted athletes throughout the world who train every day for years with the goal of making it to the Olympics and winning the gold medal. Their motivation, dedication, and training brought them to an elite level of competition as they won countless events on the road to being invited to their nation’s Olympic trials. Ironically, most of these fantastic athletes won’t make it past their national qualifying competitions necessary to be invited to participate in the Olympics. Only a highly elite group from the many nations who compete will make it past the pre-qualifying rounds at the Olympics to the finals. Ultimately, three of the super-elite athletes who make it to the finals at the Olympics will get a medal, and only one will win the gold medal. 

For some who don’t make their goal, the feeling of failure can be real. The years of hard work and dedication can seem like wasted time for these athletes as their dream failed to happen. But one look at their fit bodies and disciplined minds tells a different, deeper story. Their long journey produced an outward strength, refined skills, and an inner character that can last a lifetime. While they were preparing for one gold medal, the internal “gold” of personal strength and growth was produced. 

God invites us to look at the failures in our lives in a new light. Truth be told, failures are a real yet challenging part of each of our lives. The difference between succumbing to those failures and pressing through them is simply what—better yet, who— we look at in those times. If we look at our failures as the things that define us, we will descend into a spiral of doubt, gloom, and even despair. However, if we fix our thoughts and innermost being on God, who never fails, our personal failures become strengthening exercises and stepping stones that build us up and lead us forward into the magnificent future God has prepared for us.

A.W. Tozer called this “the gaze of the soul”; He elaborated on this as he stated,

 “Faith is the gaze of a soul upon a saving God” (from “The Pursuit of God”)

It’s powerful to think about faith in that way: fixing our being on God in all circumstances!

God is the never failing One who is abundantly, infinitely able to turn failures for our benefit. That doesn’t mean everything we do will succeed. But take this to heart: God never fails us, and will use everything that happens to us for His purpose and our ultimate good. King David, who knew his share of failures and disappointments, rested on this timeless truth of God’s faithfulness:

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings” Psalm 36:7

The Apostle Paul put it this way:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8: 28,31

When we yield ourselves to God in the person of Jesus Christ, our personal, business, relational, and myriad other failures come under His control. We are no longer defined by these things but instead are given a new identity as a beloved son or daughter of the most high God. Even the failures of others in our lives are transformed into soul-strengthening stepping-stones toward a new future with God. Here is one real-life example:

There was once a gifted, handsome young man who was betrayed and left for dead in a deep pit by his jealous brothers. Sold into slavery into a foreign country, this young man persevered through the years. He became the most valued overseer of a wealthy man—until the employer’s corrupt wife falsely accused him of rape, and he was thrown into prison. The selfish, unfair treatment of others put this man in a filthy jail that could easily have destroyed him. Even in prison, however, past events and failures couldn’t defeat this man. At just the right time, he was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stand before the most powerful ruler of his day—the Pharaoh of Egypt— and use his God-given gifts to help and serve him. Because of this, he was promoted to the 2nd most powerful position in the nation. This man, Joseph, used his talent, wisdom, and inner-strength to help Egypt through 7 years of drought. The ultimate victory of this story was that Joseph also fulfilled his purpose to bring forgiveness, healing to the same brothers who had failed him in his youth. God used Joseph’s life—failures and successes—to bring about the next phase of His eternal plan for his family and the people of Israel.

I’m convinced that a key to Joseph’s life was that he kept the gaze of his soul on His saving God. He remained confident in the God who gave him the dreams and purpose of His life. Not only did Joseph’s dreams and purpose come to pass, but also through all the trials and failures, he developed strong muscles of faith in the process.

The God who was there for Joseph is also there for you and me. I pray that in times of successes and failures, we will fix the gaze of our souls on God, through whom all blessings flow! 

He will never fail to turn all things for our good.

God bless you!

Chris Atkins